A major bitcoin conference is no longer accepting bitcoin payments because the fees and lag have gotten so bad

Joe Raedle/Getty ImagesMiami, the location on the 2018 North American Bitcoin Conference.
  • The North American Bitcoin conference has stopped accepting bitcoin payments for tickets due to fees and congestion associated with the cryptocurrency.
  • Bitcoin is red-hot right now, but the demand has put the network under unprecedented stress and sent transaction fees sky-rocketing.
  • Those issue makes it difficult to use bitcoin as a replacement for a traditional currency.

For all the hype around bitcoin right now, it’s easy to overlook an important fact: It doesn’t actually work very well as a currency.

While interest in the digital currency has exploded over the last 12 months, pushing its price up from $US800 to $US15,000, the network has buckled under the strain. Users face fees of upwards of $US30 on every transaction, which can take hours to process.

In fact, it has gotten so bad that even a major bitcoin conference has stopped accepting bitcoin payments for tickets altogether.

The North American Bitcoin Conference will be held in Miami on January 18-19, with last minute tickets going for $US1,000 a pop. But would-be attendees can no longer pay for a ticket in bitcoin or in any other cryptocurrencies. On its website, the event’s organisers explain: “Due to network congestion and manual processing, we have closed ticket payments using Cryptocurrencies – Hopefully, next year there will be more unity in the community about scaling and global adoption becomes reality.”

It adds: “We have, and always will, accept cryptocurrencies for our conferences, up to fourteen days before the event. However, due to the manual inputting of data in our ticketing platforms when paid in cryptocurrencies, we decided to shut down bitcoin payments for last minute sales due to print deadlines.”

Speaking to Bitcoin.com, conference organiser Moe Levin confirmed that transaction costs played a part in the decision. He told the site: “We wish this was easier, but no ticketing options exist which can handle large volumes of ticket sales, and transaction fees on the Bitcoin blockchain exceed $US30 at certain times of the day.”

Other organisations have also steered away from bitcoin due to fears over fees and price fluctuations in recent months. PC gaming marketplace Steam stopped accepting bitcoin as a payment method in December 2017, “due to high fees and volatility in the value of Bitcoin.” And Microsoft temporarily suspended payments on its online store because it is “unstable” earlier in January, though it restored the option this week.

NOW WATCH: Tech Insider videos

Want to read a more in-depth view on the trends influencing Australian business and the global economy? BI / Research is designed to help executives and industry leaders understand the major challenges and opportunities for industry, technology, strategy and the economy in the future. Sign up for free at research.businessinsider.com.au.